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Metal-free carbon-based catalyst could transform chemical manufacturing

August 27, 2020 / James Ives

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have discovered a metal-free carbon-based catalyst that has the potential to be much less expensive and more efficient for many industrial concerns, including manufacturing of bio- and fossil fuels, electrocatalysis, and fuel cells. At their most fundamental, these industry processes involve splitting strong chemical bonds, like hydrogen-hydrogen, carbon-oxygen, and carbon-hydrogen bonds. Traditionally this has been accomplished with catalysts that use transition or precious metals, many of them expensive and low in natural abundance -- like platinum and palladium.